Corner Closed: Belltown loses a hip-hop night, hip-hop loses a gem

Candidt remembers the exact date: January 1, 2008. The local lyricist was hanging with Grayskul DJ Mr. Hill and former Grayskul bassist Rob Castro at Castro’s house in Beacon Hill. Candidt (real name, Joe Page) had long been irritated by the stale sameness then dominating the Seattle hip-hop scene. “Back at the time, there was only a handful of groups doing the shows,” he says. “It was really lopsided in terms of the talent the city got to see. I just got sick and tired of it.”

Frustration birthed a monthly, live, local hip-hop showcase he dubbed The Corner, at the Rendezvous’ JewelBox Theater in Belltown. On opening night, March 28, 2008, Grayskul, scene veterans Silent Lambs Project, Cancer Rising (now Mash Hall), Mr. Hill, and Candidt played to a wall-to-wall crowd in the cramped quarters.

Even on that first night, a familiar, almost familial air hung in the room. Pretty much everyone knew everyone, true, but there was more to it—a sense that this wasn’t a place to see and be seen but to hear and be heard.

This vibe continued throughout The Corner’s nearly two years in action, and local hip-hop fans will sorely miss it when Candidt cuts the lights and drops the curtain after the March 26 show.

The Corner gave everyone, from the least-known acts to the most popular, a chance to shine. This kind of democratic impulse in hip-hop, even in progressive Seattle, is rare, and it fostered a sense of unity. “It was meant to be a free, open vessel,” says Candidt.

It was a place where, say, Fatal Lucciauno could perform after he’d been wrongly pegged as a menace to society by other Seattle venues following a shooting during one of his shows at Chop Suey. And though there’s still nothing else quite like it in town, Candidt feels the scene’s more open and inclusive, thanks in part to The Corner, and thus it’s a good time to walk away. “I’ve put on over 100 folks,” he says. “I think I did enough service to the scene.”

Though for closing night he’d considered pulling together the cast of The Corner’s debut, Candidt decided to stick with his all-embracing philosophy, hence the appearance of Corner newbies Q-Dot and Lisa Dank.

It’s a symbolic gesture Candidt hopes the next promoter with a big idea will take to heart. “If you’re gonna do something, think of something else,” he says. We don’t want this stale-water scene.”